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The Nigerian girls are all of our daughters

HELEN GIDDINGS | 5/19/2014, 10:51 a.m. | Updated on 5/19/2014, 10:55 a.m.

Texas House of Representatives

Once again, we are witnesses to man’s inhumanity toward man; but more specifically, man’s inhumanity toward girls. The world is watching with horror as the story of the 200-plus young girls kidnapped in Nigeria in the middle of the night with the threat of being sold unfolds. We listen for any hint of their fate, knowing how frightened they are and praying they have suffered no physical harm. We are anxious for those responsible for this atrocity to be brought to justice. The seriousness of this situation cannot be exaggerated.

Thank goodness President Barack Obama has acted swiftly in offering assistance from the United States for finding these terrified young girls who hungered for an education and a better life. Our military and FBI are assisting in rescue efforts. These girls matter. Few would question our using any and all resources to help them. Our primary objective is the rescue of these kidnapped girls. Conversely, there is an underlying global tragedy created by the devaluing of women, that if unaddressed puts women all over the world at risk for being enslaved. If these captors are not apprehended and punished, what message does that send to young girls in countries where the education of women is discouraged?

These are not the first young girls to suffer this fate while attempting to get an education. The universal message and supporting actions coming out of this – is that everyone, yes, even girls, are entitled to an education.

The global community must be engaged, outraged and must demand that the Nigerian government solve the problems associated with terrorism, human rights violations and human trafficking. Generally, our outrage endures for about a month or so, and then we move on to something else. We can’t let that happen again.

At what point does the United Nations become seriously involved, and when does the world community stop turning aside, looking the other way, and ignoring the heinous crimes committed against women and children in Africa and other parts of the world.

Our society can ill-afford to tolerate gender-based violence anywhere in the world, and that includes Africa. None of us can sit on the sidelines and be onlookers. Every one of us must do something – everyone can do something: writing to the president, members of Congress, sending letters to the Nigerian government, to the United Nations, using social media and anything else to focus attention on the urgency of finding these young girls.

Yes, some action is being taken, but it is not enough and will never be enough until they are found, returned safely and unharmed to their families, and the captors are punished. This is what must happen immediately.

Long term, we, as a global community, have much more work to do in eliminating the appalling, painful, widespread violence and inequalities suffered by women. Hopefully all of us will see the need to become active in an effort to eliminate the oppression of women and girls anywhere in the world, but especially in developing countries.

None of us can do everything, all of us can do something – what something will you do?

Helen Giddings represents District 109, which includes Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Lancaster, Wilmer, Hutchins and portions of Glenn Heights and Oak Cliff. For more information, call 972-224-6795.